In the Artist Spotlight series of blog posts, the Layered Onion highlights an artist in the community. We’ll get a chance to learn more about them and their work.
In this post, we are featuring Mohammad Amin Nayebi. Amin is a photographer from Afghanistan. Amin’s work includes portraits, landscapes, candids and more. Amin worked closely with a Non Governmental Agency (NGO) in Afghanistan which teamed up with the Memory Project. For many years the Memory Project organized youth arts activities in Kabul with the help of several Afghan youth leaders. When the Taliban took over in August 2021, those youth leaders fled the country with their families. Their story was covered by the New York Times.
How did you get involved with the Memory Project?
I have done three projects for the International Program of the Memory Project in Afghanistan. The director of Memory Project, is Mr. Benjamin Schumacker from USA, this project was amazing and I love it, not only me but all the kids benefited from this project were happy and smiling, the rest of children asked me to continue this project in Afghanistan but everyone know that the situation changed and we lost that happiness and smiles, during these projects in Afghanistan I have photographs thousands of Kids and will never forget the memories of the Memory Project.
How did you get your start in photography?
Since 2011, I started working in an Afghan American NGO to August 2021, I was working in many positions but because my photography vision was better than my other colleagues, I covered all events of this NGO. In 2016, a pregnant dog settled in our office area and She gave birth to 10 children, a few days later when she was playing with her children, I took pictures of them and posted on my Facebook page, my friends surprised and encouraged me by their messages and comments under that post, when I received that much love, I really encourage myself and I decided to continue on this path because I had the talent in it and love photography. This story was the beginning of my photography.
You do many kinds of photography, ranging from landscapes to portraits. What is your approach when you take a photo? Does your approach to taking a photo change depending on the subject?
I have studied photography in general and I have not chosen a specific style for myself, I like to take photos in any range and capture that moment, I know this is not right but I like every range and I want to photograph everything and keep it with me, but among all, I like most portrait and nature photography.
What do you like best about the medium of photography?
Photography is an art that every part of it is lovely and I cannot prefer one part than another part, but in photography I like humans and animals more and I want to capture a lot of photos of them, the style I like most is portraits and nature. And I love to capture real and documentary images of human and animal life. I love to have a professional camera and use it for my photography dreams.
What kinds of challenges might you run into when taking a photo?
Photography in addition to being a beautiful art, is also a challenging art. In order to be able to take a lot of photos, we have to spend a lot of money on it. There are all kinds of dangers and challenges in photography and it can even endanger human lives, but the major challenges I may face. People’s actions and reactions can be, insults and humiliation can happen, they don’t have the photography documents and permissions, the camera may be broken or taken, and even the arrest of the photographer can be and dozens of other challenges that depend on the place and time to occur.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
During this period, I held photography classes for 25 girls and taught them basic photography. At the end of this course, we hosted an exhibition and the students printed and displayed their pictures in the Kabul university. It is very valuable for me to share my art with others.
Thank you for sharing and walking us through your love of photography!